Dining with a Billionaire

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Les WexlerIt’s not everyday you dine with a billionaire. Yesterday, I had the chance to dine with Les Wexner, founder, chairman and ceo of L Brands, Inc. (owns Victoria’s Secret amongst other brands) at the Inaugural Real Estate Conference at the Ohio State University. His net worth is estimated by Forbes is 7.7 Billion (March 2015). Les is  a very charismatic, charming and engaging personality, very energetic and witty for his age – he’s 77.

I very much enjoyed our conversations and spending the evening with him and Bruce, his counsellor.

We talked about innovation and how technology is changing any business nowadays. He was very aware of what is happening but said that he applies the “be the third” rule as to apply new tech innovations in his companies: not too early nor too late, but spot on when the market is really ripe for it.

Les shared with the audience he got to make his fortune by borrowing some money, buying a store and to get lucky.

We also talked about leadership and I asked him what are the typical character traits that leaders and successful businessmen seem to share. He mentioned the following traits about himself and that he could recognise in other leaders:

  • Curiosity for the new and in people (understand consumers and what makes them feel great!)
  • Persistency (follow your own gut feeling and the ability to persist in realising your ideas)
  • Adaptability (having the flexibility to adapt whenever needed due to circumstances one cannot always control)

And also:

  • Attention to detail
  • Be a fast learner (Les reads 100 books a year on average)
  • Leadership is a community thing (you build it with other people)

Thanks Les for sharing your experience!

(Photo by Jay LaPrete)

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